What are you working on? What’s on your desk?


I just finished a John Ritter obit and I haven’t put away my Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 2 DVDs because I needed to watch the episode “Ted,” in which Ritter quite wonderfully played the serial killer robot dating Buffy’s mom. The day before that, I polished off a radio story for This American Life about the marriage of the late Johnny and June Carter Cash so I have a copy of the Louvin Brothers’ record Satan Is Real lying around. It has maybe the greatest album cover of all time, in which Charlie and Ira Louvin sing in hell as the Devil stands behind them poised to bash their brains in with a pitchfork. I was listening to it because when Johnny was a teenager he hitchhiked to a Louvin Brothers live radio show and requested a song for his mother and that song was “The Kneeling Drunkard’s Plea” which was written by June with her mom and sister. And then there’s the original cast recording from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins; I’ve been writing about a really swell production of it I saw in the Berkshires this summer and how the next morning at my bed and breakfast’s mandatory breakfast with strangers I kept going on and on about the singing Squeaky Fromme. Also, I have here a McKinley Memorial souvenir yo-yo. The other night at Luna Lounge I read my Assassins work in progress (which has a bit about the moment the McKinley assassin Leon Czolgosz met anarchist Emma Goldman) and tried playing with the McKinley Memorial yo-yo onstage but let’s just say I won’t be trying my hand at prop comedy again too soon. So: dead presidents, dead singers, dead actor. Gee, if only a pattern would emerge from these wildly disparate items so that others could grasp what’s on my mind. There is, I should mention, a crumpled carton of soy milk, the cancer-fearing girl’s cereal-moistener of choice. Just because I like to write about dead people doesn’t mean I want to become one.

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